A nice suit can be an excellent business card, but to get straight to the market it’s essential to have the entire look right. That’s the idea behind Men’s Finest Pocket Square, to make men feel and look good with the help of handmade fashionable pocket squares and bow ties.
Based in Liverpool, Men’s Finest Pocket Square is a fine online company created by Michael Frackowiak, a born and bred Poland entrepreneur that is very proud of the quality of his products. In this interview, Mike highlights the importance of a strong social media presence to the success of businesses, as well as, it’s always necessary to keep a very personal approach with customers.
Midlands Traveller: How and when did you start the business idea?
Michael Frackowiak: The idea behind the pocket square business, which is a very niche and narrow market, came from seeing a lot of people not looking at their best when wearing a suit.
Too frequently there is something missing. Often people are spending lots of money on expensive suits. They will go out there and get the Ted Baker or Hugo Boss suit for £400.
Then they put it together, go for a night out and are surprised that no one notices their fine suit. I can guarantee, that if they would spend an extra £10 on a pocket square, match it with socks and watch…boom…they get a lot of compliments for both a suit and the entire look.
So the idea was simple – to help guys look their best! Plus, I get to try all the fancy colours and designs first, so it is also lots of fun for me!
MT: Tell me a little bit about your background in business and why did you choose Hand pockets?
Michael Frackowiak: If you always do what you love you won’t be working one day of your life – is what they say, right? I agree. Throughout my MBA studies over the years I have been watching others growing their businesses, failing or giving up.
In 2013, I have decided that I want to help people look their best because they may not have the same amount of fashion consciousness and they are busy, working their butts off to keep things going for themselves or their families.
Being born and raised in Poland, I have got a lot of appreciation for people’s work. Here at Men’s Finest we truly believe that you can really spend a little and achieve great results.
Why Handkerchiefs? For so little money you can literately transform your outfit and stand out. People notice that when you do that. The whole notion of ‘thin slicing’ comes into play as well, where people would judge; make up their mind about your personality and all sorts of things in just 5 seconds.
It is incredible if you think about that! You can influence that enormously by wearing a pocket square. But don’t trust me on that – get yourself one and try it!
MT: Who is the kind of clientèle that you attract?
Michael Frackowiak: I would like to think that people who are choosing Men’s Finest Pocket Squares are doing it because they already know better. They know that if you look sharp, polished and professional they’ll increase their chances of getting promoted, discuss the pay rise, and have a higher level of success.
It is not my claim – Scientists discovered that some time ago.
MT: How is the market for this kind of finest men’s clothing nowadays?
Michael Frackowiak: We can certainly see a rise in the number of pocket squares and bow ties sold over the last 12 months, compared to 2013.
Is it because people are wealthier? Not necessary. The habits have changed. I personally believe that brick and mortar is a thing of the past unless you are located in the outside of city centre, in dedicated retail parks, I would never come and visit you.
The retail in that respect is goosed. On the same token we can see the technological shift happening online. I am probably preaching to the converted here, but I do all my searches nowadays 100% online. Everything is online.
Facebook, Twitter and especially Pinterest are fascinating markets for us to be in. I even created pinboards these days for pictures and articles related to my products. If we sell handmade grey with white polka dots pocket squares, I create a board on Pinterest and share it with people who are interested in buying that kind of pocket square, so they can see the possible outfits that this pocket square can go with.
I am still surprised how businesses can live without the social media presence – it will be a very short life if they don’t take any actions…but hey, that is just my opinion.
MT: What is different (and also unique) about your product?
Michael Frackowiak: All products are handmade. All made in the UK and all stupidly inexpensive. You know how awesome it feels when you get up in the morning, put your shirt and suit on, and then you go to your collection of pocket squares and choose the one depending on the colour scheme, weather, season…It is pretty cool!
MT: Your pocket squares are all handmade. Who makes it?
Michael Frackowiak: Many of our products are a very small collection. Usually not more than 10-15 pocket squares, but some are as little as one or two pieces.
We want to be unique and we always say that chances are no one has got the same pocket square as you. It is not a mass making facility. We are quite proud of that.
We have got two criteria when choosing the fabric – uniqueness and quality. We then get our local partners to create a pocket square from it, we then collect it, check it, and put it on the website. We also have a small presence on auction sites and Amazon.
MT: What are the pros and cons of having an online business?
Michael Frackowiak: You know, I partially covered that in the previous question, but I guess the biggest thing I miss from not having a physical store is the fact that I could personally talk to people who would come through the door and share some experience with them, advise and listen to exactly what they came to my store for.
We would be in the position to be able to deliver not only content (pocket square, how to wear them, colour matching, etc.) but also the context (why are they there, what’s the occasion, why do they want one, etc.).
Having an online conversation is far more difficult and less personal. We try to change it slightly these days to encourage people to contact us before they buy, hence on our homepage the first thing you see is a little video clip with me showing everyone pocket squares, etc. Make it more personal is our goal.
MT: How is e-commerce important to the success of your business?
Michael Frackowiak: E-commerce is all we are interested in at the moment. We are working closely with companies who help us understand how to increase exposure and how to enhance the experience online. But ask me five years from now and we may be in an entirely different place in our online/brick and mortar business adventure.
MT: Do you export or thinking about exporting your products? For which countries?
Michael Frackowiak: Brazil? Do you think that people may like my pocket squares in Brazil? I already have got strong support for my product in Poland, lots of friends and relatives who like the concept and I see some progress there for the brand already.
We also have established a little shop on an auction site in Poland to gauge the market and it is doing awesome. However, the idea is to get ahead in the UK, see what we can achieve here, and slowly roll out to other countries. Going back to your question on online business.
I think it is critical to point out here that the barrier to entry on any market in the EU does not really exist anymore. The auction portals and online mammoths like Amazon are giving us so much scope of growth, that I am sure if we would have focused on different markets it would be successful and relatively cheap thing to do. It cost us £3 -£4 to send anywhere in Europe from here, so it is not a problem at all.
MT: Talk about the new subscription service that Men’s Finest Pocket Squares provide in 2015.
Michael Frackowiak: Imagine you have got people who like to look sharp and get all those benefits that we talked about before. One thing that they haven’t got is time to go over our site; think of what have they got already, what colours would match with their socks, etc. We value that.
We say – leave it with us. Subscribe to our service and someone from our team, including myself will contact you, talk to you about your needs, send you some pictures and ideas through Pinterest, and start sending you to bow ties and pocket squares every month. It takes the thinking out of the picture. You simply subscribe and let us do the hard work. The deal is hugely undervalued and we will be putting the price up gradually very soon. No one else does it. No idea why, but it is good for us.
MT: What is the advice for someone who wants to have a start-up company like yours?
Michael Frackowiak: Although we solely concentrate on men, women should look at buying some pockets square and getting their suits tailored as well. Perhaps there is an idea for someone to start a business like that!
A 2006 study called ‘Effect of Applicant’s clothing on interview’s decision making’ discussed the framework that women dressed more masculine influenced the interviewer’s perception of their better management characteristics and decision making over those that did not have a tailored suit and accessories associated with it.
Women wearing a well-tailored suit were perceived as more forceful as well. So, whoever is looking to start a business – I would go for that idea!
But above all – the most important thing, and I have heard this before from somewhat successful people who started their business in the last 1-2 years, is that you should learn the SEO and online adverting first. You may have the best idea in the world, have a website, but if no one knows about it – you are doomed.
This is the number one skill. Humans doubled the amount of content being produced these days compared to what was created from the beginning of the mankind up to 2006. It is astounding number of online content, including music, video, blogs, etc. There is one billion websites out there. You have to know how to advertise, otherwise you stand no chance.
MT: What are your projects and plans this year?
Michael Frackowiak: Lots! We are still a relatively new business, we are growing all the time. I would like to reach more people with my product. How? By building a connection, a place to come back to.
Online fashion advice kind of place. There are plenty of people who bought from Men’s Finest Pocket Square in the past – they trusted us.
We are constantly going back to them with new designs and ideas. We will also be introducing a ‘Pocket Square of the Month’ from March 2015, which is going to be carefully selected and adequately priced to attract more people. We are also going to produce more videos about the existing products on our YouTube channel
We will continue doing work with our SEO experts to stay within the first page on Google for certain keywords, like a handmade pocket square, etc. We are also constantly looking for feedback about our product so get in touch on Twitter or Instagram. We would love to hear from you!
Photos | Men’s Finest Pocket Square